Home-and-home means more Mystics, Storm

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Home-and-home means more Mystics, Storm

For the second time in 48 hours, the Mystics face the Seattle Storm. For the first time in four games, Washington will play on its Verizon Center court. Based on how the locals played on their just completed three-game road trip including a loss Sunday in the Pacific Northwest, the Mystics will take any advantage they can get. Games in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Seattle ended the way all five-road games have gone for the Mystics (2-8) this season: with a loss. On this venture, the trio of setbacks came by an average margin of 17 points, the exact difference in the 72-55 loss to the Storm (5-7).Now the Mystics seek revenge as they open a four-game home stand on Tuesday night.
Washington lost for the seventh time in eight games despite Crystal Langhorne scoring 21 points on 9 of 15 field goal attempts. Her teammates in the same game, 13 of 48 (27.1 percent). Combined with scoring only nine points in the second quarter and the Storm shooting 56 percent from the floor, Washington lost its third straight to Seattle and its seventh straight in Seattle.Adding to the frustration, the loss came in a game where the often-miscuing Mystics only turned the ball over 12 timesand helda 13-2 offensive rebounding advantage. We did take care of the ball and took 15 more shots than them, but we just struggled to put the ball in the hole, Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said.The struggles offensively were indeed a team effort.Michelle Snow and Monique Currie combined for 41 points in the one tight game on the road swing, a 3-point loss at Phoenix. Four days later, the frontcourt duo failed to score a single point.Snows four-game tear since entering the starting lineup ended with a thud as the center missed her only field goal attempt in 17 minutes of play. After making of half of her 16 shots en route to a 20 point outing against the Mercury on Wednesday, Currie missed all six of her attempts and was scoreless on Sunday.The starting backcourt of Matee Ajavon and Jasmine Thomas finished with only one turnover compared to five assists, but they also missed 14 of 19 field goal attempts. Tough game for us, said Langhorne. I felt like they controlled the pace the entire game. Our offense really wasnt clicking and things just didnt go our way. The struggles offensively have also been a constant throughout the season. The Mystics are averaging a league-low 68.6 points, just below the Storm's 68.66.Sue Bird and Ann Wauters led the surging Storm, winners of four straight, with 14 points each. Former Mystics forward Katie Smith scored nine points and had a game-high plusminus of 20.I think were playing better, but I think there is still more to go, said Bird, a member of the U.S. womens Olympic basketball team headed to London this summer.Rather than face the Storm earlier in the season when they lost six of seven games, the Mystics get a team finding its stride. At least now, Langhorne and company know what is coming up.Yes, its always nice to go back home so hopefully we can pull out some wins, Langhorne said. We know what to expect (on Tuesday) so well be ready. The Mystics only two wins this season came at home including a victory in their last game at the Verizon Center, 67-66 over Indiana on June 15. With a victory Tuesday, the Mystics will have won conseutive home games for the first time since winning five straight closingthe 2010 season regular season.

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Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

The Redskins face the very real prospect of losing receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon via free agency. Head coach Jay Gruden wants both players back, but is prepared to roll with the guys on the team if Jackson and Garçon depart. 

"Obviously DeSean and Pierre had great years. 1,000 yards each. Those are going to be hard to replace," Gruden said to reporters in Indianapolis. 

It's still possible the Redskins keep both Jackson and Garçon, or keep one of the two, just as both players could leave the organization. In his comments, it seemed like Gruden does not expect one or both guys to be back, and that the team will move on without them. That could mean losing Jackson's 1,005 receiving yards or Garçon's 1,041. 

"Coach the guys that we have. Free agency you’re never going to be able to sign everybody you want as a coach," he said. "I’d like to have Alshon Jeffery, Pierre and DeSean. Heck, give them all to me. I know that's not going to happen."

Gruden tends to joke often speaking with the media, and clearly the prospect of signing Jeffery, a star wideout for the Bears that will hit free agency next week, along with Jackson and Garçon isn't going to happen. The receiver market in free agency will be interesting to watch, as a number of top options will be available. Jeffery, Jackson, Garçon along with Cleveland's Terrelle Pryor and younger prospects like Kenny Stills and Kenny Britt. 

Asked if it was "necessary" to bring at least one of Garçon or Jackson back, Gruden bristled. 

"Would never say necessary. I’d love to have them both back, I'd love to have one back. If we are unfortunate enough to lose them both, I'm not gonna blink."

The coach explained the team has a good crop of young pass catchers already on the roster. 

"I do feel very good about Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant, Josh Doctson. I love the fact that Mo Harris got a lot of work in, he’s gonna develop."

The coach should feel good about the young receivers, their development is part of his job. Crowder looks like a future star in the slot. Still, Jackson and Garçon accounted for more than 40 percent of Kirk Cousins' passing yards in 2016. That's a lot of yardage to lose. 

Of course, Doctson's development will be a major theme this offseason. A first-round pick in 2016, the Redskins got next to nothing from him as a rookie as he dealt with an Achilles injury. A healthy 6-foot-2 Doctson could offset some of the lost productivity that would come with the departure of Jackson or Garçon.

And then there is always free agency. It's entirely possible Washington could sign another, perhaps cheaper, wideout on the marketplace should they lose two the same way. Gruden said the team has 'other free agents' the team could pursue.

"We have Plan B's and Plan C's ready to go," Gruden said. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Braden Holtby named NHL's Third Star of the month

Braden Holtby named NHL's Third Star of the month

The NHL named Capitals goalie Braden Holtby as the league's Third Star for the month of February on Wednesday behind Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks and Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators.

Holtby went 8-0-1 in nine starts in February with a 1.88 GAA and .928 save percentage. He is now 17-0-2 in his last 19 decisions dating back to Dec. 29.

The Caps netminder had a slow start to the season, but has closed the gap on Devan Dubnyk in the Vezina Trophy race. Holtby won the trophy last season, but looked to be falling behind a crowded race that included Dubnyk, Carey Price, Tuukka Rask and Sergei Bobrovsky. Now Holtby has to be considered one of the frontrunners.

In 47 games this season, Holtby is among the league leaders in wins (2nd), save percentage (3rd), GAA (1st) and shutouts (1st). 

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